For my taste, bourbon’s sweet spot resides somewhere between decent-enough mixer bourbon and those bottles valued as much for their collectibility as for quality. Sure, I visit both those places and find good fun there. But I’m always searching for high-quality, non-collectible bourbons. With so many choices out there, that’s easier said than done.
My current poster child for the “sweet spot” is Four Roses Small Batch Select. Priced at $60 or so, this bottling features everything I’m looking for in a great bourbon (when I’m not looking for bragging rights).
Small Batch Select is a blend of six different Four Roses recipes, all of which are at least six years old. Bottled at 104 proof, the recipes’ unique yeast strains and mashbills make for a flavorful and complex bourbon. This is the priciest of the Four Roses permanent offerings but worth the tariff.
On the nose, there are notes of candied tangerine and sweet oak; the smell alone makes my mouth water. The first taste reminds me that this is a high proof spirit, but after the heat, dried citrus fruit flavors emerge. It’s drier on the palate than the nose would suggest. The finish is lightly oaked, with lingering dried fruit. I love a bourbon that gives me something to think about, and this more than fits that bill.